Monsignor Harry J. Byrne, JCD * * * Comment/

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Location: 3103 Arlington Avenue,, Bronx, NY 10463, United States

March 14, 2009


Earlier this week, President Obama signed a presidential directive overturning President Bush's restrictions on federal funding of stem cell research. Such funding is now possible for research using live embryos and their harvesting. It results in the deaths of the embryos. That is why it is opposed together with abortion by pro-lifers. It is supported by those who favor the hope that such research may advance the treatment of certain diseases.

In signing his directive, the president stated that his purpose was to ensure that "we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology". Ideology can be defined as a body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of individuals or groups.It can also be seen as a body of beliefs, principles,and values constituting the foundation of political, religious or other organizations. How does Obama understand "ideology"? As using scientific facts alone as the basis for decision-making? Was this what he had in mind? Critics quickly pointed out that a "naked science" - facts alone - could never be the sole basis for action. Science and its array of scientific conclusions exist in a larger universe than its own. Values and principles have developed over centuries from from our human encounter with the world of facts and science. Values and principles stand guard over our world of facts, prevent their misuse, and help us towards bettering the human condition.

President Obama cannot declare himself free from ideology. He has his own ideology that gives priority to the unrestricted freedom of women to choose. We Catholics have an ideology that declaims, with the Book of Deuteronomy, "Choose life!" Obama brings his ideology into his administration. Ed Gillespie, former counselor to President Bush put it quite clearly: "Administrations come into office with a point of view - not because they are quashing dissent or not being scientific, but because this is what helps their thinking."

Our president will come to realise that he is as much guided by an ideology as are the rest of us!